Wednesday, July 28, 2021
July 28, 2021

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‘Go Ready!’ equips students for learning

Fifth annual back-to-school fair draws thousands of area families

By , Columbian Education Reporter
Published:
4 Photos
Vancouver resident Shahed Alhariri, 8, dives into a good story Wednesday afternoon while visiting the free book nook with her family during the annual “Go Ready!” back-to-school event at Hudson’s Bay High School. The annual event, now in its fifth year, attracts thousands of families with free resources including haircuts, clothes and immunizations.
Vancouver resident Shahed Alhariri, 8, dives into a good story Wednesday afternoon while visiting the free book nook with her family during the annual “Go Ready!” back-to-school event at Hudson’s Bay High School. The annual event, now in its fifth year, attracts thousands of families with free resources including haircuts, clothes and immunizations. Amanda Cowan/The Columbian Photo Gallery

The halls and lunchroom of Hudson’s Bay High School were bustling Wednesday, filled with eager kids and smiling adults.

Don’t fret over your calendar. You’ve still got about two weeks before students are back in school. But Vancouver Public Schools is working to make sure that when that day comes, students “Go Ready!”

The school district hosted its fifth annual back-to-school fair, a blowout event attracting thousands of families. The “Go Ready!” event mixes a resource fair with a medical clinic and adds a dash of shopping center to round out the experience. Students picked out clothes, got a haircut, caught up on their immunizations and had their ears, teeth and vision checked — all for free. Parents perused booths staffed by nonprofit organizations such as Lifeline Connections, Partners in Careers and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, learning about social services, job opportunities and after-school programs.

And because it’s still summer, at least for a little longer, there were free hot dogs and ice cream.

Jan Redding, the district’s director of public engagement, said it’s a break from the chaos of back-to-school season for families, and a reliable place to find most necessities for the season.

First day of school

The first day of school is approaching for districts in Clark County. Here’s the first day of school for local districts, plus details of districtwide back-to-school events. Most individual schools will also host back-to-school events for students, and some districts operate staggered or delayed returns for kindergarteners. Visit your child’s district or school website for more details.

• Battle Ground Public Schools — First day: Aug. 27

• Camas School District — First day: Sept. 3

• Evergreen Public Schools — First day: Aug. 27

• Green Mountain School District — First day: Aug. 28

• Hockinson School District — First day: Aug. 28

• La Center School District — First day: Aug. 28

• Ridgefield School District — First day: Aug. 28

Back-to-school event: The Ridgefield School District will host a “Back2School Bash” from 9 a.m. to noon, Aug. 24, at the Ridgefield Church of the Nazarene, 747 Pioneer St. Free school supplies, backpacks, haircuts, clothing and snacks will be available, but students must attend to receive a backpack and supplies.

• Vancouver Public Schools — First day: Aug. 27

• Washougal School District — First day: Aug. 27

• Woodland Public Schools — First day: Aug. 27

Back-to-school event: Woodland Public Schools will host a “Back to School Bash” from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Woodland High School, 1500 Dike Access Road. There will be free backpacks and school supplies for all students as well as games, bounce houses, prizes and food.

“They’re coming for the basic needs for their kids,” Redding said as hundreds of families milled around. “It takes a lot of anxiety out of being ready for the first day.”

Take Ashley Tarkong, for example. The Vancouver mom took a brief respite from her 7-year-old son’s high energy to play a few rounds of a game on her phone. Her son, Kannon Davis, who is going into second grade, played nearby as the pair waited for him to get a haircut. Just a little off the top, said Tarkong, running her fingers through her son’s curls.

“We want to know what’s going on, what opportunities are out there,” she said, adding that this time of year “is kind of crazy.”

Kannon announced “break time” as his favorite part of the school day to a laugh from his mom.

“He’s really a good student,” she said.

In the school’s gym, meanwhile, families sorted through donated clothes to pick out outfits, leaving with sacks full of shirts, pants and warm winter coats. The district gave out 850 bags of clothes at last year’s event.

You Can Help

The Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools is collecting new school supplies for students in the district. You can donate money and supplies, or host a school supply drive of your own. The foundation will collect supplies at its “Pack-a-Palooza” event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Aug. 22, at Eisenhower Elementary School, 9201 N.W. Ninth Ave., Vancouver.

“I found a green dress!” announced Aurora Nowak, 6. She rummaged through a bag full of clothing to hold up the forest green, velvet dress. Is it her favorite? Yes, she signaled with a nod. Is she going to wear it on the first day of school? Again, she nodded and hugged it close to her. That’s a definite yes.

Aurora was accompanied by her aunt, Jessica Simon, who laughed at her niece’s antics. Like Tarkong, Simon noted what a hectic time of year this is.

“This makes it a lot easier,” Simon said.

Back in the halls, Redding was rushing from location to location, helping blue-aproned volunteers and greeting families. The controlled chaos of the day has become a summer tradition for her, but it’s worth it to hear from dozens of families who tell her, “thank you.”

“It’s such a good feeling, how we’re helping,” she said. “It’s a very fulfilling day.”

Columbian Education Reporter
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